Addiction is a hot topic when it comes to tobacco use and it is a legitimate concern.  There are lots of articles and news reports telling you that nicotine is as addictive as hardcore drugs and there are some that will tell you that it has almost no addictive properties that can be determined with testing.  The short answer to this argument is that often these studies are conducted by people who have a certain outcome in mind before they start.  It’s often more about the money than it is about the actual results and this is sad because I would like to know the actual facts.  Both the tobacco companies and the anti-tobacco folks have money to lose or be made depending on the outcome.

Very sadly hookah gets caught up in this argument quite a bit.  If you attack one form of tobacco you are considered soft if you don’t attack all of them regardless of how different they are.  On the other hand hookah does not have the support that things like cigarettes have because people think it is only for illegal smoking and for people that aren’t “real” smokers.

There are articles that claim things like “smoke from a single hookah session contains approximately 36 times the tar, 1.7 times the nicotine, and 8.3 times the carbon monoxide as the smoke produced by one cigarette.”  There are even some that claim hookah smoke contains no measurable nicotine and is in no way bad for you.  Lets lay down the basics here.  Hookah contains nicotine.  The level of nicotine that is absorbed can vary greatly depending on how it is smoked, what kind of tobacco it is and how the smoker behaves.  There are some tobaccos that contain very high amounts of nicotine and will knock you on your ass if you smoke too quickly or too frequently.  Much like a strong cigar.  There are also some that are so washed out and weak that a non-smoker will be fine and feel no effects.  They can not all be grouped into one category and their properties are so different that it’s hard to generalize them into one set of statistics and measures.


I do not claim to be a chemist.  I am not a medical proffesional.  I gave that up a while ago.  I am a hookah smoker and all I know is my own experiences.  I am only going to focus on addiciton in this article.

When I am free to relax and spend time with my friends I smoke around two bowls of hookah a day on average.  I smoke some very classic tobacco and occasionally I smoke the weaker and more modern types.  My tastes are varied and my tolerance for nicotine is high.  I love a buzz and I seek it out.  Hookah is part of my daily life and it’s how I relax unless I am smoking cigars.  I love tobacco.  Many would assume that with such smoking habits I would experience addiction and if you believe the hype reports then there should be no way I can function happily without nicotine intake.

That being said, I am in no way addicted to nicotine.  While hookah is a large part of my life at times it is not needed or necessary.  Once in a while there are times that I am unable to smoke.  Not just because hookah is such a process and ritual but because of unpleasant weather (in the case of cigars), being away from my hookahs, staying in a place that is not smoke friendly or because I don’t want to stink like tobacco.  I am fine.  I can go weeks without smoking and only miss it because I enjoy the experience.  I feel no ill effects from withdrawal either physical or mental.  This is being proven once again right now as I am tending to my injured girlfriend and have not smoked since the 24th (currently it is the 29th).  I don’t have time and the only place I smoke is at my fiends house, which I have not been to since before the 24th either.  I am looking forward to the day when I can enjoy this hobby again but there is nothing that makes me want to inconvenience myself or my girlfriend to pursue it.  Yesterday I was running around and doing errands.  I had a perfect opportunity to enjoy my brier pipe or a short cigar.  I wasn’t in the mood.

Addiction is often defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”  Trauma, in this context, means either physical effects like nausea, cramps, chills, pain and increased heart rate and/or psychological effects like stress, anxiety, iritability and mood swings.

I experience none of this.

I am not a chemist.  I am not a medical professional.  I am a hookah smoker.  And I am not addicted.

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14 years ago

I completely agree, Kalutika.
“36 times the tar…” is complete nonsense, and I want to know what in God’s name these people were testing. *IF* a shisha has tar in it it’s in the amount of fractions of a percent of the overall weight. Most that I’ve come across have none though. Hell, light up a bowl of Hydro and you’re smoking nothing but flavored woodchips…that’s essentially what Native Americans did a *long* time ago.

It’s the procedure and materials in these experiments that completely put me off. I read several studies by pretty reputable organizations and they *burned* the shisha to measure it’s output. Burned. As in “lit on freaking fire.” Anyone who’s been around hookah for 5 minutes knows that shisha is *heated up* and if it ever actually catches on fire (or even just gets TOO hot), you can bet the taste is going to scare off anyone around it.

If someone were to ever throw a device my way that could measure smoke volumes, nicotine levels, tar levels, etc., I’d be happy to go MythBusters on this one, once and for all. A real test of shisha needs to be:
-Many different shisha’s including herbal (so like Hydro, Starbuzz, Tangiers, Nakla, Laylina, and AF).
-Several subjects smoking each to account for the personal absorption differences in each person.
-Several different coals (Quick Lights, Coconuts, Wood, Japanese coals, etc)
-Consistent packing, smoke time, and intake volume across each hookah.

It’s an insanely large experiment, but in my eyes it would be well worth the effort to know the real data.

Electric Monkey
14 years ago

Wow, I don’t think there are too many people out there that can say the same. I am not a chemist or a medical professional, but I am addicted to chocolate!

Hookah Man
14 years ago

I Love the flavorful Hookah Blends and mixtures, with fruits in the base! I have tried Hookah in Egypt, Poland, Russia, and the States and do not feel Hookah has addictive qualities. It is a social act that brings nothing but great conversation and relaxation. I love listening to tunes and watching some visuals, as I enjoy different blends. I smoke once a week with friends. It is upsetting to see big government tax tobacco products excessively and ban it out right. In Boston, Hookah has recently been outlawed. The city uses claims of addiction etc to pass its agenda.

I agree with Sam, gettin’ Mythbusters involved would be a great idea.

13 years ago

your cooked

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